No. 1 killer: Cancer is catching up to heart disease

Story highlights

  • In 22 states, more people died from cancer than from heart disease during 2014
  • Cancer is the leading cause of death for Asians, Pacific Islanders and Hispanics
  • Heart disease kills more whites and blacks

(CNN)More Americans die from heart disease, but cancer is rapidly gaining ground as the No. 1 killer.

In 22 states, more people died from cancer during 2014 than from heart disease, new data from the National Vital Statistics System indicated. This is a substantial uptick from 2002, when only two states (Alaska and Minnesota) recorded more cancer deaths than heart disease deaths.
    This might be due to obesity, which is a risk factor for both heart disease and cancer, explained Dr. Paolo Boffetta, a professor of environmental medicine and public health at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, who was not involved in the study. Obesity is more likely to cause heart deaths than cancer deaths.
      Cancer deaths gaining on deaths related to heart disease might be explained by the fact that "treatment for cancer is more complex, and we are not able to treat cancer as effectively as cardiovascular disease yet," Boffetta said.
      Essentially, it's like two trucks traveling down the street, except one is running slightly faster than the other, Boffetta said. Similar trends are occurring in Nort